Ok, let's get it over with.
Why you should not come to India.
(Unless you are going First Class, and then, why bother?)


If you do, then leave behind all expectation, erase all understanding you think you have of what you will find, and what you think you know. Relinquish everything you believe to be true. Surrender all illusion that you can control your choices, a situation, even your own self. Be prepared, as Hazrat Inayat Kahn posed, to be 'scattered upon the rock of truth.'


Ever sleep under the stars? It's divine, cozy in your sleeping bag, drinking in the fresh night air, gazing into the cosmos. The 99% of India live in the open on the streets, or, if they are lucky, in patchwork shacks made of tin, discarded cardboard and fabric. Materials are leaned, piled, and draped over frames of pipes and rotted wood stolen from decaying buildings, tree branches, pieces of rusting car bodies, broken bits of out-dated bill boards, or, within four walls of cow poop bricks. Railway stations and abandoned and collapsing structures, even tombs, are prime housing for the huddled masses. They squeeze in at night and in bad weather, scrunched together like sardines across the floor. Maybe they have a blanket.


The middle class live in apartments or houses, some with a few rooms, if they are lucky. Electricity, yes, and even cableTV, but there is no water treatment plant and waste-water flows on and on to the sea. We must drink only bottled water, and even that I zap with my UV purifier. Using same even to brush your teeth, and don't forget to pinch your mouth closed when taking a shower. Eat only cooked or packaged food, even that is risky.


Neighborhood streets are so narrow, stretching out your arms you can sometimes touch the buildings on either side. India is very very old, and modern is mixing in very very badly with the old. Meaning, now motorcycles and small cars and tuk-tuks try to zoom around those tiny winding streets, sending pedestrians leaping for doorways! The bigger roads, like one or two main roads in a city like Ajmere, and the 'highways' between cities, are two lanes with a dotted line down the center. Just a suggestion, really. Like England, the idea is to drive on the left, but here, everybody weaves on both sides of the road... and sidewalks.... all weaving together... fast... close... in both directions at once... just inches between them. It's like being in some rapid-fire video game. Cars, buses, trucks; carts and carriages and wagons drawn by camel, horse, oxen or men; horseback riders, motorcycles (sometimes carrying a family of five), roaming cows and dogs, bicycles (often loaded with goods for market with the load three times the width of the bike), pedestrians, motorcycle or bicycle tuk-tuks, I'm sure I've missed something.


In the three years since I was last here, motor vehicle traffic has at least doubled, and free of the bother of yearly inspections, all manner of wheeled beasts belch smoke of every hue of tan and gray. The fumes make me nauseous. It doesn't help that with all those roaming animals, there is s*** everywhere, oh, and then there's in the open trench sewers lining streets. Aromatic. Can you smell it?


People are starving everywhere. Everywhere you walk, people are begging. But you can't give them anything or you will be mobbed. Remember that scene from'The Razor's Edge,' when Bill Murray gets off the train (or was it a boat) and gives a coin to a child, and within seconds, dozens of kids are running after him, pulling at his cloths and shouting for alms? It really is like that. Except in the movie, the beggars were clean. I once took 'leftovers' out of a restaurant, and handed them to the first street urchin lurking just outside the door. Within seconds, I was surrounded by filthy, grasping hands, scratched by ragged fingernails pulling on my cloths. Never again.
It's very hard to be with this. A true practice of detached compassion.
So that's the downside. Next I shall write 'why you should come.'

Shall I be shattered
by this hammer
of love?
the powerful
magnet of the heart
this rushing,
howling
wind of the soul
that calls my mind to run heedlessly
into the wilderness?

Will I drown in this
honey pot of desire
caught in the
undertow of
infatuation
twisted by
cross currents of
longing and intent?

Or can I be washed, cleared in
this ocean of
tears of
nostalgia for
something Iím not sure ever was
or ever can be?

Then,
floating,
be lifted,
buoyant,
on the crest of
Love, Lover, Beloved?

oh! Shatter me upon this rock of truth!